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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Bakongo in Angola

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Date(s) Item
1954 Holden Roberto founds the first political party whose goal is to reunify the Bakongo people who were spread over three countries as a result of colonization. The party's goal is modified in 1958 to a nationalist orientation. It becomes the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) in 1962. FNLA is a significant actor in the struggle for independence for Angola.
1961 - 1975 The fight for independence involving the FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA against the Portuguese is waged.
Mar 1961 FLNA (then the Union of Angolan Peoples) launches an attack on the Portuguese, but they crush the peasant attack. As a result, as many as 400,000 Bakongo fled into neighboring Zaire. This marks the beginning of the war of independence. FLNA was joined by the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) in the liberation struggle. MPLA draws support from intellectuals of all ethnic groups and the Kimbunda living in and around Luanda. It was led by Agostinho Neto.
1963 Jonas Savimbi breaks away from FNLA to form his own resistance movement UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). UNITA draws support from Ovimbundu and Bakongo ethnic groups.
1975 War of independence ended. Most Portuguese flee. The three resistance groups enter a transitional government, but there is much factional fighting.
1976 MPLA (marxist government) defeats other resistance groups and Neto becomes president. The OAU recognizes MPLA as the legal government of Angola.
1979 Neto dies, Jose Eduardo dos Santos becomes president. Each fighting faction draws support from outside nations. The MPLA was traditionally supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba. The FNLA was supported early on by the U.S., Zaire, China and North Korea. UNITA drew support from Tanzania, Zambia and China and later from the U.S. By the late 1970s, the FNLA became a secondary actor, forming a coalition with UNITA, and the conflict moved away from the traditional homelands of the Bakongo in the north to the central and southern areas of the country. During the 1980s and 1990s, the main fighting has occurred between UNITA and the government forces (FAA).
Apr 1990 The MPLA and UNITA commit to peace talks.
Dec 1990 MPLA Congress endorses the creation of a free-market economy and multiparty system of government.
Mar 1991 Legalization of opposition parties. Bakongo may rebuild their own political party. FNLA had essentially become a non-actor, though its exiled leader (Holden Roberto) returned when parties were legalized and was a candidate for president in 1992.
Mar 1992 There is evidence of division within UNITA. Two generals resign and condemn Savimbi as a dictator.
Sep 29 - 30, 1992 Angolans go to the polls in the first direct elections since independence. 4.8 million vote. Presidential candidates include dos Santos, Savimbi, and Roberto.
Oct 1992 Election results bring violence. In the presidential election, 49.7% of the vote goes to dos Santos and 40% to Savimbi. MPLA gains 129 of 220 seats in the national assembly. FNLA receives 2.5% of the National Assembly seats. The election is proclaimed free and fair by international observers. The majority of demobilized UNITA soldiers return to arms.
Oct 30 - Nov 1, 1992 "Three Day War" in Luanda. Evidence suggests more than 10,000 bodies of Ovimbundu and Bakongo lie in mass graves.
Nov 1992 Savimbi's rebels intensify fighting. Rebel forces control between 60%-70% of the country.
Jan 1993 Angola is once again in full scale civil war. Aid workers say 10,000-15,000 people have been killed in the past four months. Savimbi launches an offensive in the oil-rich northern provinces (including Cabinda). Oil production is the MPLA's main source of revenue.
Jan 22, 1993 Military, national police and civilians massacre civilians, mostly Bakongo, in several cities. Reports suggest this is a deliberate attempt to destroy the Bakongo (ethnic cleansing) who are referred to as "Zaireans" in Angola. The number of dead is thought to be in the thousands (most reports suggest between 4000-6000 dead). Some Ovimbundu were also killed. Following this massacre, known as "Bloody Friday," the government condemns those who took part.
Jan 27, 1993 UNITA and government representatives were in Ethiopia for talks aimed at ending the fighting.
Apr 1993 UN mediated peace talks are proposed. Savimbi will agree to a formal cease-fire if the UN sends in peacekeepers and the government agrees to decentralization of power in a provisional government lasting 2-3 years. Peace talks break down in May.
May 19, 1993 President Clinton announces the U.S. will recognize the government of dos Santos in Angola. In July, the U.S. decides to lift its embargo on nonlethal military supplies to Angola. MPLA government says the move will put it on a more equal footing with UNITA.
Nov 1993 Peace talks resume, but falter by the end of the month.
Jan 1994 Freedom of assembly is restricted when Bakongo attempt to commemorate the anniversary of "bloody Friday". Freedom of speech is curbed in the National Assembly and the government controls the press. Opposition party representatives in the National Assembly are prohibited from traveling to their constituents in the interior of the country. The National Assembly subcommittee for Human Rights releases a report which failed to find the government culpable for the events of "bloody Friday" in January 1993. The opposition PDP-ANA party (Democratic Party for the Progress-Angolan National Alliance), which is almost exclusively made up of Bakongo, proclaimed the report a whitewash.
Mar 1994 There are food shortages due to conflict and drought in the central highlands, largely populated by Ovimbundu. Thousands are starving and Red Cross estimates 200,000 people in and around Huambo are in immediate danger. Fighting continues.
May 1994 Savimbi suspends UNITA's participation in peace talks in protest over the bombing of Huambo.
Jun 1994 The government continues on the offensive. Attacks are reported in the Bakongo region of Uige in the North and in Lunda Norte and Malange (not Bakongo regions), also in the North.
Jul 1994 An assassination is attempted against Savimbi, who is badly injured.
Nov 20, 1994 Lusaka peace accord is signed. A U.N. Peacekeeping Force is proposed for 1995. South African leader Nelson Mandela played an instrumental role in bringing the MPLA and UNITA together. Peace in Angola, however, is fragile.
Jan 1995 in January the Government warned ethnic Bakongos not to commemorate the second anniversary of the January 1993 >bloody Friday’s massacre of Bakongos by military, police, and armed civilians.
Feb 1995 The U.N. voted to send 7000 peace keepers to Angola in May. Defections of UNITA leaders caused alarm as they threatened to return to war.
Mar 1997 UNITA joined the National Unity government; 70 parliamentarians already took their seats and 10 former generals were integrated into national army. Fighting in Benguela province was reported over past few months (Reuters, 12 March 1997).
Apr 9, 1997 67 out of the 70 elected União Nacional de Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA) deputies were finally sworn-in at the National Assembly in Luanda. Two days later, the government of National Unity and Reconciliation was installed following months of intense pressure on UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi by the international community. However, UNITA suspended the implementation of the 1994 Lusaka protocol, which was the cause of the tension of the country.
Jun 1 - Jul 31, 1997 UNITA carries out attacks in the North East of the country, as tension increased everywhere (Deutsch Presse Agentur, 3 September 1997)
Aug 1997 UNITA was blamed for killings that took place in Southern Angola. (Deutsch Presse Agentur, 3 September 1997).
Sep 3, 1997 The United Nations Security Council adopted sanctions against UNITA for noncompliance with the Lusaka Peace Accord B to take effect 30 September if UNITA does not comply with the accord (Deutsch Presse Agentur, 3 September 1997).
Oct 11, 1997 UNITA threatened to withdraw from the peace process. UNITA has economic interests over Cuango diamond field in Lunda Norte and still has effective control over the area. UNITA withdrew from Lusaka Peace Accord between October 1997 and January 1998 (Deutsche Press Agentur, 15 September 1998).
Jan 1998 UNITA and the government signed an agreement to implement terms of a ceasefire which will be implemented as 28 February 1998 (Deutsche Press Agentur, 15 September 1998).
Mar 17, 1998 Former UNITA Second in Command Eugenio Manuvahda said Savimbi wants war. Manuvahda says if UNITA wants peace, it should abandon Savimbi (Deutsche Press Agentur, 17 March 1998).
Mar 21, 1998 UNITA radio reported that the police and the army were engaged in an offensive against UNITA in Benguela province (BBC, 21 March 1998).
Apr 30, 1998 The United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of MONUA (UN Observer Mission in Angola) until 30 June (Africa News, 30 April 1998).
May 1998 Fighting restarted in Benguela Province 1998 (Deutsche Press Agentur, 15 September 1998).
May 15, 1998 The UN reported on human rights abuse during war. The UN is monitoring the Lusaka Peace Accord signed in November 1994. Also, a UN verification mission in several regions in Angola reported abductions, arbitrary arrests and assassinations. In addition, military forces often detained civilians without reason and held them for ransom; men and boys were forcibly conscripted for military service by both side (Reuters, 15 May 1998).
Jul 1998 UNITA was blamed for heavy fighting in Lunda Norte (Deutsche Press Agentur, 15 September 1998).
Jul 31, 1998 The United Nations said they found mass graves of recent clash victims in Lunda Norte province; the attack happened on 22 July and 105 people were killed. The government blamed UNITA for the attack (New York Times, 31 July 1998).
Aug 1998 The Angolan government gave the opposition movement UNITA until the end of August to complete demilitarization or risk losing its parliamentary seats and posts in government. In fact, UNITA was expelled from the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation. A few days later, a new UNITA faction appeared declaring its allegiance to the government and denouncing Savimbi as the main obstacle in the way of the peace process.
Aug 3, 1998 64,000 Angolans fled UNITA forced conscription in Zambia. Human rights abuses by UNITA were reportedly escalating since May 1998 (Africa News, 3 August 1998).
Sep 2, 1998 Four cabinet ministers of UNITA were fired by President dos Santos amid growing fears that civil war was about to resume (CSM, 2 September 1998)
Sep 11, 1998 Jorge Valentim, breakaway UNITA leader, said that the majority of UNITA militants want peace. On 7 September, the MPLA government urged the UN to recognize the splinter which issued a declaration on 2 September in which they renounced war and committed themselves to peace and national reconciliation on the basis of the Lusaka Protocol (BBC, 11 September 1998).
Sep 15, 1998 The United Nations Security Council renewed the mandate of its observer mission in Angola for another month following the complete breakdown of the peace process. Meanwhile, Savimbi resumed fighting B he refused to completely demobilize and to return areas under its control to the government. (Deutsche Press Agentur, 15 September 1998).
Oct 20, 1998 UNITA and MPLA clashed violently in Uige Province. Officials began talking about forces of Savimbi rather than UNITA (BBC, 20 October 1998).
Dec 1998 Angolan government forces recaptured a strategic bridge in central Bie province, killing more than 50 UNITA rebels. The government control of the Cune River bridge represented a serious threat to UNITA’s military headquarters at Andulo, 60 km to the north. Shortly afterwards, advancing rebel troops pushed the government army out of eight towns and headed to the strategic city of Kuito. UNITA rebel forces had taken four towns in Huambo province and four others in neighboring Bie province since the beginning of December, when fighting restarted in the highlands about 300 miles southeast of the capital Luanda. The renewed fighting, which ended a four-year peace pact between the government and UNITA, displaced thousands of people who converged on Kuito.
Dec 17, 1998 More than 100 were killed in a grenade and machine-gun attack as civil war sputtered back to life. Government military authorities blamed the attack at a former railway station in Kunje, central Angola, on die-hard supporters of the UNITA (The Washington Times, 17 December 1998).
Jan 5, 1999 On 2 January, for the second time in a week, a United Nations plane was shot down soon after take-off from the besieged Angolan city of Huambo. Issa Diallo, head of the UN Observer Mission in Angola, said Kofi Annan was outraged and that UN flights were being specifically targeted. Both planes were shot down over territory controlled by UNITA (The Toronto Star, 5 January 1999).
Mar 1999 UNITA forces provided logistical support for a group of Bakongo rebels fighting President Kabila's regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Bakongo rebels were reportedly being led by Rwandan military officers.
Jul 1999 The Angolan government, through the Criminal Investigation Police, published an arrest warrant issued in the name of citizen Jonas Malheiro Sidonio Savimbi. It states that Savimbi has continually committed crimes punishable under Angolan Law.
Aug 3, 1999 Angola’s second City, Huambo, surrounded by UNITA rebel forces, is being steadily reinforced by a government determined to win back the central highlands from rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The central highlands are ethnically Ovimbundu from which UNITA takes its support. UNITA has followers in the city but residents have bad memories of UNITA’s occupation 5 years ago. Politically, UNITA’s position is not helped by the 175,000 newly displaced it has forced off the land and into the city (Africa News Service).

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Information current as of January 10, 2007